Disney, the slightest mention of the franchise elicits grandeur and extravagance, a beautiful combination neither of which came through in this show. The majority of this show screamed expensive, forced, and taken too far.
Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s take on the famous Stockholm syndrome fairytale, where Belle is trapped in the castle of the self centered and cursed Prince. The Beast, as the Prince is known, is doomed to live in his castle as he turns into a monster. His servants are turning into household objects and will eventually loose their humanity if the Beast does not learn to love and have his love returned.
The leads in this show were a mixed bag, Belle (Jillian Butterfield) played a fleshed out version of her character. While Belle can sometimes come off as a vapid character, Butterfield gave her depth. Her songs came from the heart, especially during her performance in “Home” and its respective reprises. The Beast (Ryan Everett Wood), on the other hand, was a different story. Played as comic relief, his mood swings went from angry solitude to strange childlike meltdowns that prevented character growth and took away from the depth of the play. The show felt like it was trying to force humor into strange places. Lumière (Patrick Pevehouse) played his character way too sexual going past charismatic into too creepy for children and Lefou’s (Tony D’Alelio) reactions were way over the top. The addition of fake crash noises throughout the show also made the production seem forced and fake.
Where the show most fell short was where Disney normally excels, the set, and the costumes. The set was confusing, feeling like a mishmash of ideas that came together to make a very strange conglomeration. The opening song had a small, but compact and cute set. The image looked like it popped right out of a storybook, and the use of movement of the pieces created a fluid work, but this method went downhill from there. The small movable pieces got tedious and distracting and the lighting never seemed to match. The lighting dipped down once Belle entered the Beast castle, but never came back up and the entire show felt unusually dark.
The costumes looked expensive, but not necessarily good. Belles classic gold dress was too short and at the end a tacky pink tulle was thrown over it as an afterthought. The most cringe inducing costume choice of the evening was during “Be Our Guest”, when a stream of silverware ladies came out in what can only be called crotch-hearts sewn to the bottom of their leotards. The Beast also had some wardrobe malfunctions; his tail drooped down like a dead ferret, that he would fidget with to poorly compensate for his sparse blocking.
While not an amazing show, it was not lacking in energy. The cast may not have been great, but they were committed and excited, good for youngsters with a Beauty and the Beast obsession, but not for the seasoned theatre goer.